speeding cars
(just run with me)

It doesn't occur to her until far past midnight, beginning with one comment from a long-dead man - that's his worst problem, he lets people walk all over him. I used to tell him he ought to tattoo "welcome" to his forehead and leave it at that - and warping into a terrible string of "what if"s and worries and confusion. The thought pops into her head and then she's staring out the window, at the rain lashing against the trees, and thinks that the time for pretty lies and kindness has long past.

What if -

What if -

It hits her suddenly that he doesn't talk very much (well, he never did, but less than usual) and he seems ten times tireder now than he used to, even though he's not yet forty and even werewolves live longer than that.

Does he think she forced him into this? But why? He could have simply said he didn't love her if he really didn't, and she could have left it at that. She wouldn't have been happy, no, but she would have lived. She's been turned down before (Charlie Weasley leaps to mind, and a particularly embarrassing scenario at breakfast one day in their sixth year that she swears never happened), and it didn't kill her then.

But - he lets people walk all over him - what if?

She doesn't realize she's fallen asleep until lightning wakes her up at dawn and she finds that she's alone. She realizes that she expected this, somehow. Knew this would happen, right from the beginning, way back to the first time she told him that she was in love with him - and in retrospect, she wonders if she meant it then or now or ever, because like her mother told her: Dora, you're still so young, and you swear you love every man who smiles at you.

She'd been angry then, but Mum was right (that was why she was so angry, really); she had an awful tendency to fall in love and an awful tendency to never quite get over it.

Slowly, fighting down morning sickness with willpower and a glass of water, she crawls out of bed and stands at the window, tired and hungry and nauseous. It occurs to her that she's never known what's best for her, nor what she really wants. This morning seems full of horrible realizations.

The reflection in the still-dark window tells her she's looking like Aunt Bella this morning, and she's too tired to be disgusted quite yet.

For a moment, she hates. Hates Remus for being such a pushover, hates her baby for sealing the deal, hates her mother for being right, hates her own face for showing a similarity she's always tried so hard to hide.

(When she was young, she overheard her mother telling her father that Bella would have liked Dora - impulsive, quick-thinking, clever Dora - and this was the moment she decided to become an Auror.)

Half of her wants to go home to Mum, but that would mean admitting that Mum was right and now there's no Daddy there to tell Mum to "stop it with the 'I-told-you-so's" and to remind her that she was just as impulsive as Dora when she was this age, and she doesn't think she can deal with Mum right now. Desperately, painfully, powerfully, she wants to crawl up in her father's lap and bounce on his knee and get him to tell her stories until she falls asleep on his shoulder and he carries her to bed - she wants daddy to come back and make everything right again, to magically clean her wounds and fix her problems and kiss her forehead and tell her how wonderful she is and how much he loves her.

Now, she cries. Because Daddy is so far away and even though nobody said anything about it when he left, all of them knew that he wouldn't come home. And now Remus has disappeared too, and maybe it's for the best, but then maybe it's going to just rip her all apart again because there's so much going on and so many people are dying and losing and crumbling and falling apart and shouldn't people stay with the people they love? Now, if never before and never again, shouldn't they stay?

But Daddy left Mum and Remus left Dora and all she can think about right now is James Potter, who stayed and valiantly fought Volde- You-Know-Who just to give his wife a few more moments, James Potter, who died trying to give his wife another minute to escape.

(And then Lily. Lily, Lily, Lily, who died to keep her baby from harm and Dora is sure that she could never do the same, and it kills her. But then, Remus wouldn't die to protect her, would he? So maybe she's justified, only she isn't because it's still her baby whether her husband loves it - and her - or not.

For a moment, she wishes this baby would disappear.)

The sun has risen, but it's weak and weepy and hidden by clouds, a disc behind the gray, turning the clouds just a little lighter, and making the landscape twice as gloomy for the half-hearted lightening.

And then the what ifs - what if the house gets struck by lightning and I die today? What if the storm blows a tree right through this window? What if I miscarry this baby? What if he never loved me at all? What if he lied so he wouldn't have to hurt me? What if he felt trapped?

(What if none of us make it out of this alive?, she remembers asking, three days before the wedding. We're all in so much danger, what if they get to us? We've made it so far, what if our luck has all run out?)

What if our luck has all run out?

She throws up finally, all over the floor in front of the window, tears stinging Bellatrix's eyes and falling on Bellatrix's face and Bellatrix's hands. Shaking, she sinks to the ground and tries not to look at it. It'll take weeks to get the smell out of the carpet. She doesn't quite care, not yet.

She hates pregnancy. Hates the emotional rollercoaster, the throwing up, the weakness, the hunger, the everything. She hates that it's an excuse for everyone to be nice to her, hates that it's a reason for her to stay home and safe, hates that everyone thinks they know exactly what she needs (even when they do). She hates that she can't get drunk and then she hates that she wants to.

It's easier to hate the baby than to hate Remus, so she does.

It isn't the baby's fault, she reminds herself, before remembering that she doesn't really care whose fault it is.

She still looks like Aunt Bella, and it occurs to her that she's acting like it, too. As a child, she thought that if she changed her face, she could change her personality, too - and maybe everything else. If she could just be a different person, everything else could be different as well.

She can't bring herself to change her face, not while she's being so Bella-ish. Selfishly, she wishes Remus were here. He wouldn't know what to do, but it would give her something to direct her hate at.

(And then she thinks that maybe she drove him away, after all.)

(And then she thinks that maybe Sirius was right in the end, about everything.)

(And then she hates him, too, for being dead and not being able to slap her in the face and tell her to snap the fuck out of it before she drives him insane. Sirius would do that, she thinks.)

Her luck has all run out, she realizes - the people who can help her are dead or worse, and the people she needs are far away, and she's all alone and pregnant and crying and being so very stupid and childish and Bellatrix, and there are people dying all over the place and she's totally helpless to stop it or ease their pain or even her own, and she's trapped, right here by the window, by a baby and a rainstorm and her own failure and Remus's inability to love her and -

She screams, then, and feels a little better.

Leaning against the wall, she changes her hair to lurid pink, and it just makes her feel sicker. Angry, she stands up (defiantly ignoring the rolling nausea) and lights every candle and sconce she can lay her hands on because the sun is so pathetic in the sky, and then she looks at herself in the mirror and determines that she desperately needs a shower.

She was right, back then, about her luck being all gone, but then, who needs luck? Leave it for the new generation, she decides, and get by on the seat of your pants. Or maybe you don't get by. Maybe you die today or tomorrow or next week or next year. Maybe the baby is never born, or maybe it is. Maybe he comes back. Maybe he never does.

She cries in the shower and says, loudly, "This is it, okay! This is the last time I'm going to cry over this or Remus or anything else. No more crying, no more Bellatrix, no more what ifs. I've got to..." She shivers, hardly aware of how hot the shower is. "I've got to keep going anyway. For the baby." She closes her eyes and lays a hand on her still-flat stomach, "I lied when I said I hated you," she whispers, "I don't. I love you. Please believe me."

Please forgive me.

(She knows, somewhere deep down, she knows - her luck has all run out. Chances are, the baby won't live, and even if it does, it won't know her. Even if it survives, she knows she won't.)

(Leave the luck for the new generation, she thinks, and face the consequences of your own.)

She lets the shower run until it's ice-cold.